The Future of the Clarendon Hill Redevelopment Project

By William Tauro

Will The City of Somerville, RedGate and Unions Be Able to Strike a Deal?

As the Board of Alderman continue to work to reach an agreement with Developer RedGate and Unions while state legislators await the Home Rule Petition, the fate of hundreds of Clarendon Hill families hang in the balance.  Although board members were confident that all parties would reach a decision, it appears they still have a lot of work to do in order for the project to move forward as scheduled.

Some of what they are debating centers around fuzzy math with respect to prevailing wages, union/non-union workers to be used for projects – Affordable Housing Units and Market Rate Units.  But first, I’d like to go back to the meeting of 5/16, when the board and developer, RedGate discussed some of the complicated details which were only touched upon briefly, this evening.

As I was listening to the developer talk about the project on 5/16, while reading off a slide presentation, I was reminded of an infamous speech by a former Senator during the economic decline.

Those same words stated seem only too appropriate for what I heard last week and this evening—

“Keep filling the punchbowl”

”Talk a lot, use plenty of numbers but say nothing”

“We need more transparency, yet you refuse to provide details”

“Sounds like you’re taking uncalculated risks”

“This is the definition of a moral hazard”

Representatives of RedGate were questioned on a variety of topics, to include how the project was going to be financed and the costs and pay-rate of the labor force hired to build the project.

Testimony by residents of Clarendon Hill housing (Intersection of Rt. 16 and Powerhouse Boulevard), describe  years of living in unhealthy environments were their children have developed respiratory illnesses including asthma.

Overall Take-Aways

Members of the BOA and developer have had 2 years to work out the details of the project unsuccessfully.

Swaps, Shell Game and CAP Rate are the three items discussed on 5/16 that raised red flags on RedGate.

Residents of Clarendon Hill public housing who rely on affordable housing assistance have waited too long for a new place to live. The photos reveal conditions that existed for decades according to testimony from residents which are beyond repair.

While developers continue to get rich on our housing stock, NIMBYISM, Gentrification and those who claim to be aiding in the cause, have done very little to turn the tide on affordable housing. Some I suspect only want it for themselves and are now adding another layer to existing problems.

A representative of RedGate stated there will be a number of studios build at market rate.  Has anyone considered who will be living in the studios? While our neighbor Tufts University continues to take our housing stock for student housing, I can’t help wonder who will be occupying the new condos, while GLX is a bike ride away.

Stay tuned…..We will continue to bring you updates on this project.

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